Scene 1.16 - The Portal
The Kindred Fortress:
Arik reached the upper level of the catacombs feeling completely drained of energy. It had been a frustrating night as he'd wandered the endless caverns below ground, looking for any sign of his kin.
So engrossed in the search, he'd found it easy to divert his thoughts from the woman who was sitting alone within the fortress. He'd kept moving, unwilling to stop and rest for even a single second. The last thing he wanted to do was speculate any further about who she was or why she'd been sent to them. He feared he already knew the answer to both questions and he didn't like either.
Reaching the highest level of the stony corridors, he sensed a surge of power that he'd not felt in ages. It was impressive how many things he'd forgotten about during his centuries drifting in sleep. The Viewing Portal was a thing he'd rarely visited during his lifetime, but the hum of energy that emanated from it traveled for miles in every direction. Recognition of what it was hit him abruptly.
He stopped in his tracks, realizing the door to the room stood wide open. No wonder he could feel its effects so powerfully. With no one else in residence, Ratziel must not feel it necessary to guard it as tightly as they once had. Normally, the door would be bolted shut at all times.
Within the room, Ratziel hovered within feet of the Portal, floating there within his celestial form. The slow swirling arcs of energy told Arik that he was deep in meditation, at one with the source of knowledge that allowed them to track the movement of every being in the world above. More than likely, Ratziel had returned to his main obsession now that he was awake—tracking the life of the soul he revered above all others in the world, his mate. That was all he had been able to do in the years before he finally surrendered to sleep.
"Ratziel," he murmured in a soft tone. Anything louder would have startled him.
At once, the form in the air stilled its movement. Ratziel took note of him standing there and descended from his position. He materialized just a few feet away, looking for all the world as he had during the height of their civilization. His light-brown hair was short and immaculately fashioned, and he was back to wearing his dress robes, a common outerwear the Kindred Viewers wore when in the presence of the Portal. Arik admired his dedication to the practice—even after all this time. He could never tolerate wearing so many layers of material like that. He much preferred the smaller vestments of thin leather that allowed his skin to breathe.
"I see you've made use of the pools. They've completely recharged since yesterday."
"Many things have been brought back to life with the woman's appearance," Ratziel agreed. The amazement was evident in his voice. "It's obvious by now that she is one of the Kindred, isn't it?"
"I haven't decided yet. I haven't given it that much thought."
"Oh, I doubt that."
Turning a dubious eye on the glow of the Portal, Arik shot him a deadly serious look as suspicion mounted within him. Had he been watching him?
"What do you know," he rasped, his eyes narrowing in an instant.
Ratziel merely shook his head and folded his hands together as he turned away without concern. He refused to acknowledge Arik's flaring temper. He was well-accustomed to deal with it. Nothing could be gained by any sort of a stand-off over it.
"I know that some things are better off learned over the natural course of time."
"Then you do know something," Arik accused, unable to let the matter drop.
Ratziel raised a pointed brow, suggesting the answer to that was obvious enough. They were, after all, standing in the presence of the Portal. He shook his head defiantly though. This was a path he believed Arik should explore on his own. He'd been shown that much just hours ago.
"Arik," he warned gingerly, "I have never known you to be intimidated by any situation. Yet, so easily were you driven away in fear—"
A harsh breath escaped Arik and he stepped back in offense. Dare he say another word in that regard… He feared absolutely nothing! It was the safety of the fortress and the Kindred that drove him to seek solitude last night. How dare he infer there was anything deeper to be read into it. Fear? Ridiculous!
"She may have been brought here as a weapon—a weapon to be used against us! The things she's capable of doing far exceeds anything human at all. That surge of energy should have killed her and you know it. It didn't. And, you would only have to look in her eyes to see that there is nothing human about her at all."
"I don't need to see her eyes to know what she is," Ratziel stated without so much as blinking.
"Without the Portal," he argued irritably. He was growing more perturbed as the conversation continued.
Ratziel regarded him quietly, pursing his lips before finally voice his thoughts on the matter. "Each of us were born with the gifts we've been given. It's how we chose to abuse those gifts that led us to the path we're on today. I'm not going to make that mistake ever again. If it takes an eternity of penance to repay what we are due? So be it…"
Arik turned away from him, unwilling to listen to another moment of his drivel. Still, he spun back around, unable to bite his tongue as he'd wished to do.
"No matter what you've heard—and I know you trust what it shows you implicitly, I don't. I've seen the fire in that woman and it's like nothing I've ever seen before. I cannot accept that she was placed here as a mere gift from those who would see us remain trapped for all time. There is no way the Portal showed you any of that!"
"You'd be amazed what it is capable of revealing," Ratziel whispered, his voice lowering even as his eyes helplessly returned to stare at it in wonder.
"Why don't you try and put it to good use then! See if you can find where the others have gone. I searched for hours and I can't find a trace of them anywhere." With that, he turned on his heel to head for the door. Without waiting for a response, he stalked down the hall toward the stairs.
No, he feared absolutely nothing in life. He had never been intimidated by a single entity in the universe. That Ratziel dared to suggest otherwise infuriated him. It was time to get to the bottom of what secrets the woman was keeping from him. He may not have an all-powerful Portal to see into her mind, but there were other ways to get the information he was after.
Right now, instinct told him there was more to this woman's presence in the fortress than she had yet to reveal. He did not like that fact one bit.
It was time to force her hand to get the answers he was after.